The maid warrior didn’t have to wait long at all before she could test out her newfound abilities. As they were talking, a group of creatures came roaming down the hallway. They had long snouts and were sniffing the air, looking for survivors. They were kobolds. Their strongest attribute was their powerful noses, which allowed them to track down and kill with extreme precision. Within the city, the smell of smoke and blood was simply too strong to track down any humans. For the last day, kobolds had been rendered almost useless.
The castle, on the other hand, had recently been breached and could be called the least distracting place. The bands had returned once again to the hunt, looking for any humans to eat. Unlike the goblins and trolls with aggressive sexual appetites, the kobold only liked to eat human flesh. Whether this made them better or worse, it was hard to say.
As soon as they caught a whiff of Bloodbane and the maids, they let out excited howls. Bloodbane attacked before they could react, and the group of kobold scattered. They were very fast, unlike their goblin counterparts, and didn’t remain in close-knit groups that would hamper their speed. This meant that Bloodbane could not one-shot a group like he did so easily with the goblins. In fact, he was only able to skewer a single one while the rest jumped away.
Had Bloodbane still been using the club, he might have even missed the single Kobold. They were simply that fast. Thankfully, he had upgraded to the arm blade, which he had to hold by shoving his hand into the gory shattered remains of the troll arm and grab the bone as his handle. It was a bit wet, but Bloodbane had long grown used to holding weapons with his hands slick with blood. He used this weapon as smoothly as any.
As for giving the maid warrior a chance to display her talent, Bloodbane had been too excited at the prospect of killing a new foe, so he had attacked without thinking. At this point, she had emerged from the hallway as well. She was holding a pair of blades. They were crude things, having been used by the goblins, but they were the only weapon available to her. It’d had been nice if her transformation had also included a sword, but Bloodbane supposed it couldn’t fix what she didn’t possess.
After flinging the skewered kobold at one of the others, he turned to attack the nearest one. There were six of them remaining, and they liked to keep their distance, running in for an attack when their enemy’s back was turned. However, like the hunters they were, they liked to focus on the weakest first, and their eyes immediately landed hungrily on the maid, who was smaller. Four of them surrounded the maid, while the final two only attempted to distract Bloodbane until they could finish the kill. At that point, they’d try to deal with Bloodbane, and if that failed, they would escape.
The pack tactics of kobolds could not be underestimated. Although their strength was even lower than kobolds and they only stood at about five feet tall thanks to their somewhat slumped postures, they were many times more dangerous because of their group tactics and strong noses.
A kobold attacked the maid’s back, but she sensed it with a warrior’s instinct and spun, taking his claw with one hand and slicing his neck with the other. Although she had been upgraded to warrior, this was still her first battle, and wherever her experience and knowledge came from, it wasn’t at a level where she could instantly battle advanced enemies. Even being able to hold her own against a single kobold put her above many normal citizens.
The other three kobolds used this distraction to attack. In a moment, they would swamp the maid and cut her down to pieces. This was a kind of tactic they excelled at. Bloodbane was just about to assist her, ignoring his own distractions and possibly taking a hit in the process, but then he saw a sadistic smile form on the maid’s face as the kobold came at her from behind.
She suddenly leaped back toward the three incoming kobolds. As they did so, she began to spin. She looked like a ballerina, her skirt rising and revealing a sexy garter belt and black panties underneath. The kobold ignored this, only caring to avoid her knives. It wasn’t until the first touched her skirt that they realized that the skirt was made of sharp blades. Her body had become a deadly shuriken, her dress slicing the kobolds as they came in reach.
An arm went flying from one kobold and another’s throat was cut. Only the third managed to leap away in time. The maid seemed to anticipate this. She released one of her goblin daggers, letting it fly off. It struck just where the kobold had been retreating two, striking him in the chest and piercing its heart. Meanwhile, the kobold with the cut throat collapsed to the ground, quickly spasming to death as its claws thrashed wildly. These creatures were not nearly as hardy as trolls.
In the shock of seeing such a scene, Bloodbane took advantage of the surprised kobolds watching him and cut one of them down. There were only three surviving kobolds now, the armless one, the one that had been the distraction, and one of the ones on Bloodbane. All three leaped away, trying to retreat.
“On it!” Bloodbane threw his blade arm with all his might, impaling one of the kobolds on the wall where it had been trying to leap off the edge to escape.
The maid did a flip, grabbing the knife in the heart of the dead kobold as she did a handstand over it. When she landed back on her feet, she tossed both goblin daggers, sending each into the back of a fleeing kobold. They both collapsed to the ground. Her accuracy was wickedly accurate.
Bloodbane nodded toward her. It would be the only compliment she would receive from the likes of him, but it was enough that she preened happily under his gaze. Bloodbane then walked over the wall and ripped out the arm blade from it, causing the dead kobold to fall in a heap.
“Come, there is more to kill.” Bloodbane said in a deep voice.
“Master, about this power… it’s like the knowledge of a warrior was dropped into my head…” the maid said uncertainly.
“I learned how to grant this power in the library. It was power we lacked. It is power we have.” Bloodbane gave a vague explanation that might explain why he spent so much time in the library.
The maid nodded uncertainly. “Does Master know what extent this power goes?”
Bloodbane cocked his head, and then shrugged. “Say, ‘status’”
“Hmm? Status!” She only hesitated a second before calling the name.
Bloodbane could not see it, but the shocked expression on her face showed that she was seeing the screen. He wasn’t sure that such a thing would work, but it turned out that those he gave a position of power also had access to the status menu now. He was anxious to move on, knowing every moment counted as the city fell around him, but he also knew the importance of gathering strength, so he allowed her a moment to process things. She was currently his only ally.
“My lord…” She spoke uncertainly after a second. “It says under name… ‘Pending King’s Approval.’”
“Hm?” He raised an eyebrow. “Do you not have a name?”
“It’s Anne… my lord.” She blushed. “I… am no longer the same person I was before. I believe that I have been reborn thanks to you. It determines my title as the king’s lieutenant. Since I am yours, can you please grant me a name?”
As she said this, she fell to her knee. Bloodbane was a bit surprised. It wasn’t the fact she wanted a new name, but the title being lieutenant. It looked like the Path of King had him assigning his forces of strength. In this case, she was a lieutenant. That meant that this wasn’t an ability he could just bestow on anyone, but those he desired to give a role of leadership.
He looked down on her, but Bloodbane was not a man for naming things. He casually glanced into the memories of his predecessor to find something that used Anne in the name so he didn’t have to complicate things. He eventually found a name that suited her.
“Your name shall be Andromeda.” He declared.
There was another flash of light around her, and a slight surge of power. Had being named caused her to grow stronger? Bloodbane couldn’t guess until he saw her fight. He nodded, turning to leave once again.
“Ah! One more thing, my lord.”
He stopped but didn’t turn back to face her.
“I seem to have something Powers. I seem to have two of them.”
Even she had two powers? It was curious. Since it related to her fighting ability, Bloodbane became more interested.
“What are they?”
“The first is merely called the Path of the Warrior. I believe it’s what gives me my fighting knowledge. It, um… just increased to level 2.”
When Bloodbane had named her, it must have increased. That was what the flash of light must have been. It was the equivalent of a level up. Since Bloodbane had the Path of the King, it made sense that he would give her the Path of the Warrior. If anything, knowing this made him feel a bit more comfortable about this mysterious power.
“And the second?”
“Subordination, it says I can assign two subordinates.” As she spoke this, she turned and looked into the room.
The two maids from earlier were still sitting there in tattered clothing. They were holding each other and shaking, but their eyes were locked on the two warriors. They could only see a little bit of the fight earlier, but they could determine that the pair of them were strong. Their expressions were filled with complicated feelings. It was a mixture of hope and bitterness. If their king had such power before, then why had he let the kingdom fall to this point. Furthermore, even with this strength, would he have the ability to change things now? It was these kinds of thoughts the pair felt.
“Do as you want,” Bloodbane replied.
“As my lord says.” She curtsied and then walked into the room.
The two women knew Anne well. They had worked side by side for years in the castle. Anne had always complained about how much of a useless guy King Drake Bloodbane was, but she’d also be extremely protective when others talked about him. However, this woman wasn’t the Anne she knew. Her appearance was otherworldly beautiful. She was deadly, and her eyes held an unhinged look that was unnerving the more you looked at her.
A combination of the extreme pain from the troll blood and the horror of being destroyed by a troll had clearly broken her. In her broken state, her mind had clung to the only sense of stability in her life, Bloodbane. To the other maids, he was a horrific monster, but they had a distinct feeling that if they voiced such words to the current Andromeda, she would kill them without hesitation.
As she approached them, her wild eyes glowing and a sadistic smile on her face, the two other girls tried to back away. However, they were bruised, broken, and battered in their way. They had nowhere to go, and nothing left to fight with. They could only stare helplessly as she put one hand on each of them. A moment later, they gasped as their bodies exploded with power and light.
Bloodbane who was waiting in the hallway with his back against the wall and his arms crossed only saw a glow of light burst forth from the room. A minute later, Andromeda emerged from the room, a wide smile on her face. Slowly, two other women emerged. Like Andromeda, these women didn’t have a single wound on their bodies. They looked like immaculate beauties, although perhaps just a step less attractive than Andromeda herself.
They didn’t have her confidence, and they seemed almost uncertain of their new bodies and the world around them. Their clothing had managed to repair itself, and it contained fragments of leather, but it wasn’t quite as impressive as Andromeda and lacked the shuriken skirt and a few other features. The two girls were holding each other’s hands, but they had enough braveness to walk out and follow the other maid. It was at this moment that Bloodbane realized that the two women had an identical appearance. They were twin sisters.
“My lord, they also need to be named,” Andromeda declared proudly.
Bloodbane frowned. This was truly a bother. He had already put more effort into naming Andromeda than he cared to. It would have been better if she just named them herself, but it seemed like she still had a desire to protect them. In her mind, if Bloodbane named him, he’d form a connection to them and be more likely to protect them. Once you named a puppy, it was much more difficult to discard it. It was something like that.
“Fine.” Bloodbane grimaced. “From this day forth, you shall be Maid One, and you shall be Maid Two.”
He casually tossed out such a name. It did keep things simple, and that was something Bloodbane favored. The two girls glowed with light before anyone could say anything. Maid One and Maid Two looked at each other, their expression filled with wryness. As for Andromeda, she beamed like Bloodbane had come up with the perfect name. It was clear that her lord could do no wrong in her eyes. Her attitude change was horrifying, but neither Maid One nor Maid Two would say anything about it.
Before he led the maid warriors forward, Maid One and Maid Two also checked their status. They didn’t have Path of the Warrior, but Path of the Soldier and their title was merely Andromeda’s Subordinates. In general, they seemed weaker than Andromeda. Some of that may have been because they did not drink the troll blood. Bloodbane had no clue if the blood contributed at all to Andromeda’s change.
After perhaps fifteen minutes had passed since Bloodbane had entered their room, he went on with a small force of four. The twins each grasped a single goblin blade tightly in their hand, looking around warily. Meanwhile, Andromeda led just behind Bloodbane, two goblin blades in hand. The hallway the library was on was relatively isolated, and there was no one else there, let alone monsters.
As they entered the inner part of the castle, the sound of fighting started to grow louder. A few corpses were seen here and there. At this point, a door burst open, and human corpses flooded out. These were the first human undead that Andromeda encountered, but she didn’t bulk at all. This was also a good opportunity for the girls as well. The undead were rather slow and stupid, and since they were dead, the girls didn’t have the burden of ending a life.
Bloodbane had already killed humans before, and undead humans were just stupid humans. Thus, he contained himself and allowed the girls to do the attack. Andromeda moved through the crowd with precision. Her strikes grew increasingly more deadly with practice, and she was soon cutting them down like wheat. The twins were disadvantaged at first, but they leaned on each other for support and steadily fought together. Once they had managed to kill one creature, they grew more confident in the next one. Once the ten undead had been cut down, they were fighting much more efficiently.
Bloodbane continued this trend, allowing the girls to fight. So far, not a single living person had been found. There were various corpses on the ground ranging from soldiers to servants. Many of them had been eaten alive. As for the women, a few had shown signs they had been taken alive or killed by their men to spare them the same grisly fate as the three maids.
As the maids saw this carnage and recognized they now had the power to do something about it, their assertiveness and desire to push further grew. They continued to consolidate their newfound power, and they even leveled again, reaching the third level of their respective paths. As for Bloodbane, he remained patient. He understood the need to build up his allies. If there was any threat they couldn’t handle, he stepped in, sending the monsters to their death with a few swipes of his blade.
Soon, the twins were fighting as fervently as their mistress, and Andromeda was like a deadly wave. Naturally, as they grew more incensed in battle, their speed through the castle increased as well. They finally found the first pocket of resistance. There was a team of ten soldiers trying to hold back a group of goblins on one side and a group of skeletons on the other. Skeletons seemed to move faster and more fluidly than their undead zombie counterparts.
“K-king Bloodbane?” The eyes of the man in charge widened in shock as he saw his sovereign walk up with the maids following him.
Bloodbane was covered in quite a bit of blood, and so were the women. With the daggers in their hands and the blade arm on his, it was truly a fearful sight. However, this was the same Bloodbane who was a coward that hid in a library. That moment of surprise and hope had been replaced with disdainful and ridiculing looks. In their minds, the kingdom was lost. How could Bloodbane be a king when he had no kingdom? Any sense of respect was gone.
Bloodbane didn’t care about these disparaging looks. As for Andromeda, she sneered at the soldiers, as if looking at idiots who couldn’t see the light right in front of them. Thankfully, they were all too busy fighting to notice her look behind Bloodbane.
“A-a troll!” One of the men shouted.
On the side under siege from goblins, a troll was slowly walking down the path, a brutal grin on its face. Once it reached them, their line would fall and all ten of them would be slaughtered like rabbits. The men’s faces grew white as helplessness flowed through them.
“My lord…” The leader said through gritted teeth. “It isn’t safe here. You may still escape the way you came.”
Even though he hated King Bloodbane, and looked at him with unhidden hostility, he still couldn’t leave the man to die. None of the other soldiers present might have chosen to be so selfless, but he was an older man, which is why he had reached Sergeant and had worked under Bloodbane’s father, who he had a great deal of respect for. This was perhaps the last act of kindness of a dying man.
Saying those words was enough for Bloodbane. He might have left these men to their fate, but they still held an ounce of loyalty. Furthermore, Bloodbane needed strength in numbers, and he couldn’t afford to toss away trained soldiers.
“Kill the troll. You have fifteen seconds to drop it, or don’t bother continuing to follow me.”
The ten soldiers all looked at him, their mouths dropping. After the sergeant had given him such a gracious offer of escape, he had said the most ridiculous thing possible. Let alone ten men, even if they had a hundred, felling a troll in fifteen seconds was impossible. It must be that Bloodbane had lost his mind. He was now barking out insane orders without any semblance of reality.
However, it wasn’t the soldiers he was talking to. Behind him, Andromeda stepped forward. She was giggling in a way that caused the men’s stomachs to knot. She was followed by two uncertain twins who had no choice but to follow their leader. Although they were uncertain, their leader’s confidence bolstered their own and they gave determined looks.
Andromeda licked the flat end of her blade. “As my lord commands, I obey!”